Opening 16 Nov 2023
Whether by nature, or to simplify co-existing in the tumultuous family setting nine-year-old Cáit (Catherine Clinch) is quiet. Squished between older and younger siblings, and parents that talk over and around one another, Cáit goes unnoticed. At school she oftentimes suffers small embarrassments; at home everyone fends for themself. With Da’s ([dad/Irish Gaelic] Michael Patric) bad habits and anotherˈbābē on the way Mam (Eabha Ni Chonaola) writes her distant cousin for help, suffering the humiliation. It is with relief, then, to see Cáit go off for the summer. After midday dinner with the couple, Da heads home leaving Cáit in a hitherto unknown environment: a clean, big house with no other kids, busy yet relaxed. Eibhlín (Carrie Crowley) prioritizes Cáit’s needs as a hot bath—"you’ll get used to it,” different and clean clothes, and rubber boots; they head for the well with the dog tagging along nose to the ground. Sean (Andrew Bennett) stoically tends the farm, milks the cows, cleans the barn, and seemingly ignores Cáit. Under Eibhlín’s gentle guidance and with kind words and encouragement Cáit learns household chores like vacuuming and basic kitchen work. Eventually, Sean even shows her how to feed milk to a calf. Days pass easily, and Cáit thrives as an unshakeable bond forms; then Mam’s letter, boding an ill wind on the horizon, arrives.
Irish writer-director Colm Bairéad’s debut feature, The Quiet Girl, is a quiet movie that allows audiences the luxury of time: to study fleeting, heartfelt emotions on the protagonists’ faces, time to admire cinematographer Kate McCullough’s eye-catching shots/angles and appreciate the exemplary sound design and Stephen Rennicks’s score with its lyrical soundtrack, and time to empathize with Cáit, Eibhlín and Sean’s predicament. John Murphy’s editing wisely follows the nuanced timing established by Bairéad. Bairéad’s basis for his screenplay is Claire Keegan’s English language 2010 coming-of-age novella, Foster. The cast is stunning, quietly commanding attention through body language, and verbal inflection and timing. To quote Sean, “Many's the person missed the opportunity to say nothing, and lost much because of it.”
Besides its many awards, The Quiet Girl made history as the first Irish-language film short-listed for an Oscar® and then the first Irish film nominated in the Best International Feature Film category at the 95th Academy Awards, 2023. (Marinell Haegelin)